THE ABANDONMENT of a mental-health group home has created a political storm.
A now-defunct Port Macquarie mental-health facility, Ellimatta group home, has prompted Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott to call for a review of state-run mental-health services in the Hastings.
The home ceased operations in February.
Reports about the closure in the Port News last week spurred Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams to insist it could still be used.
However, Mr Oakeshott yesterday said the state government’s claim contradicted first-hand accounts from mental-health patients, their families and health workers.
Both an end to services at Ellimatta and local mental-health support centre Karrawa Cottage last year added pressure to Port Macquarie Base Hospital’s emergency department, he said.
“The National Party defines two local mental-health services – Karrawa Cottage and Ellimatta House – as open for business, despite an admission they have no clients and are rejecting new ones,” Mr Oakeshott said. “A Yes Minister episode identified the best hospital as one with no patients, but this is meant to be a television comedy show, not National Party policy.
“The closure of two community mental-health facilities is no laughing matter.”
Mrs Williams this week again denied the closure.
“Robert Oakeshott is simply wrong to claim that two community-based mental-health services in Port Macquarie have been closed,” Mrs Williams said.
“Both Karrawa Cottage and Ellimatta House have not been closed, and are simply part of a review to put in place appropriate and effective mental-health services to meet the needs of our community for today and the future.”
NSW Mental Health Minister Kevin Humphries also spoke out to defend his government.
“It is absurd for Robert Oakeshott to claim the NSW Government is ignoring mental health in the Hastings when what we are actually doing is working hard to reverse the neglect that developed under state and federal Labor governments,” Mr Humphries said.
Mrs Williams said $50,000 had been provided to the Mid North Coast Local Health District [MNCLHD] for a Clinical Services Plan to determine how many beds and community mental-health services are required in the Hastings and Macleay regions.
The future use of Ellimattta House is to be included in the plan, Mrs Williams said.
MNCLHD director of mental health and drug and alcohol services John Leary said the plan would be completed in the next two months.